The family of Sarah Rodden is reeling from her sudden and unexpected death in Tuesday's Glenn Highway crash.

In April, the 42-year-old moved to Alaska from Hawaii. Her sister Heather Enderson says the move was part of a healing process.

"About five years ago we lost my dad and her husband," Enderson said. "She came back to Alaska for a kind of restart. Her significant other Dwight wanted to see Alaska, too." 

Rodden was the oldest of three sisters. The family, originally from Idaho, moved to Alaska when the girls were young.

"Our dad was military," Enderson said. "Sarah went to Wasilla for a while, I went to Palmer."

Rodden relished her return to Alaska, her sister said. She just started a new job and was planning holiday get-togethers.

"She just posted about the about the first snowfall," Enderson said. "She was so excited. She hadn't seen snow in over 14 years."

On Tuesday, Rodden and her partner were driving south on the Glenn Highway to run some errands. Police have said the setting sun, icy roads, high speeds and vehicle tires all played into what happened next.

Just after the South Birchwood exit, they came upon the beginning of what would turn out to be a multiple-vehicle accident and swerved to avoid it.

"Sarah was driving and Dwight was the passenger," Enderson said. "She slowed down to get out of the way, then his side got hit, and then in the midst of that, her side got hit."

The couple's van veered off into the center median, colliding with an SUV. The couple the driver of the other got out of their vehicles and made their way to the side of the road to avoid being in the middle of more collisions.

"They absolutely did the right thing," Renee Oistad with the Anchorage Police Department said. "Usually when people go into the median or ditch and get stuck, we want them to stay until help arrives. In this instant, they got out to avoid being in a collision. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the wrong place at the wrong time."

Drivers coming upon the crash didn’t have much time to react to the accident in the roadway.

Another car came over the hill and swerved to avoid it, heading toward where the couple was standing.

The car hit Rodden, then collided with another vehicle in the northbound lane.

"Dwight was there and saw everything," Enderson said. "He tried to help, everyone there tried to help. I got the call and raced over there."

People on the scene administered CPR trying to save Rodden's life. She was pronounced dead at the scene when police arrived.

"Everybody that was involved, I just, my heart goes out to all of them. That was a really tough moment," Enderson said. "I want to thank everybody that tried to save my sister. I know my mom and my sister want to thank everybody."  

The family is still working out memorial service preparations and have set up a GoFundMe in her honor.

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